The majority of Floridians believe the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic is not yet behind us, according to an emergency preparedness survey by the School of Public Affairs at USF.
The survey, conducted between July 30 and Aug. 10, captured responses from 600 residents from across the state on everything from mask mandates to school reopenings. Results indicated that most Floridians are supportive of taking precautions to contain the spread of Covid-19, though there was some difference of opinion when broken down between Democrats and Republicans. Democrats, for example, expressed more support for stricter mitigation efforts, while Republicans said they were less likely to believe that public health guidance has been effective in limiting the virus’s spread.
Key findings include:
- Nearly 75 percent of respondents said they would strongly support a statewide decision to keep schools closed this fall. Democrats supported the measure by 65.9 percent, while only 40 percent of Republicans said that they would. Pinellas County Schools will open for in-person instruction Aug. 24, though close to 45 percent of parents have opted to send their kids back virtually.
- Mask wearing was another point of division between the parties, with 86 percent of Democrats saying they strongly support requiring masks to be worn in public versus 58.9 percent of Republicans.
- Just over 65 percent of Floridians said they would support closing restaurants and bars again, while slightly more than 20 percent said they would oppose it. Those numbers are about the same when it comes to closing houses of worship.
- Roughly 85 percent of Floridians said they’d support placing stricter limits on public gatherings.
- More than 45 percent of respondents said that candidates should not hold any campaign rallies in Florida this fall, and 42 percent said that rallies should be allowed but only if proper social distancing protocols are followed.
- On a positive note, the majority of respondents said they feel more prepared to protect themselves from Covid-19 now than they did when the outbreak began.
According to the Florida Department of Health, Pinellas County now has more than 18,400 confirmed cases of Covid-19, and 541 deaths, five more of which were reported Friday. However, the rolling average of the percentage of positive cases has been trending downward over the past two weeks, with a 4.2 percent positive rate Thursday. The St. Pete Catalyst has a daily update on total cases by ZIP code, which you can find here.